Is Anyone Here Farming as the Sole Source of Income

Finding land, working a small plot or anything else countryside related
VanillaEssence
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Is Anyone Here Farming as the Sole Source of Income

Post by VanillaEssence »

Hey guys,

I'm wondering if anyone here is actually farming full time? I'm currently in the last year of my undergrad, and was planning to do Masters and PhD, but I'm having something of a crisis as to whether that is something I really want to continue :violin: . If anyone is farming full-time where are you doing it? What are you farming and how much land do you have? I've heard a lot of negative things about farming in Japan (especially JA) so I'm curious about people's experiences. Thanks!

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Re: Is Anyone Here Farming as the Sole Source of Income

Post by LeeB »

What subject were you planning to do your advanced degrees in?

The kid just finished her PhD and she tells me they are like 'a dime a dozen' now.

Full time positions opening up at a university are just like moving up in the military in peace time: nothing opens up unitl a person leaves or dies..........................

And with the all the crap going on the number of foreign students here in Australia has dropped which is going to lead to cutting a huge number of positions over the next year if those students don't show up again.

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Re: Is Anyone Here Farming as the Sole Source of Income

Post by VanillaEssence »

Political science

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Zasso Nouka
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Re: Is Anyone Here Farming as the Sole Source of Income

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Yes, we make the majority of our living from farming, we also have a cafe where most of the produce comes from the farm. We have around 3,000 tsubo or 3 acres of farmland and rent around another 2,000 tsubo so maybe 5 acres in all. We mostly grow European vegetables, not really much point in competing against farmers growing Japanese veg at seriously low prices but we also grow standard Japanese veg like nasu when it's difficult to grow European vegetables in the summer.

Being locked into JA does certainly make things difficult as they determine the prices they will pay for produce and you have to buy all your inputs from them but it's quite easy to operate outside of their influence. My wife's uncle is a typical JA farmer and he's always bitching about how little profit he can make selling through them, quite often he barely breaks even. We sell at several michi no eki, department stores and other places and are able to make a much better profit margin than he, 30 to 40% is possible to achieve if you can sell in the right places.

Most of the profitable farmers we know operate outside of JA's influence, if you have good farmer's markets in your area or are willing to travel into a big city nearby, Tokyo or Osaka and work the farmer's markets there it's possible to make a decent living. A lot depends on the area you are living in, ie do you have easy access to customers without having to travel long distances, living closeby to a big city makes life a lot easier. The two best michi no eki we supply are good because they are located in towns that don't have large supermarkets nearby so most people living there use them as their main shopping point. We've found michi no eki that have good supermarkets nearby are less profitable (for us at least) and tend to be dominated by hobby farmers that either have a good pension to back them up or some other source of income.

At the present time in Japan it's possible to make a living from a much smaller plot of land than in many other countries if you are willing to think outside the box and work a bit harder than your average farmer.

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Re: Is Anyone Here Farming as the Sole Source of Income

Post by VanillaEssence »

Thank you for the detailed reply. I currently live with my in-laws in Kamakura, so where ever I might move to would need to be relatively close-ish to here, I also love my Tokyo nights so wouldn't want to take them off the table :lol: . That makes sense to me, if you can operate outside the cartel's influence it seems like a good way to go. I'm willing to put in some extra work. Mushrooms especially seems like something I'd like to do. I'm a bit addicted to those permaculture videos on Youtube as well. My parents have sheep so I know I'm not really keen on having any big livestock. I absolutely hate driving but I guess I would be willing to start again if it was for my income haha. I'm definitely keen to investigate some of this stuff further and might bother you with some more questions Zasso

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Re: Is Anyone Here Farming as the Sole Source of Income

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Feel free to ask any questions you like. Kamakura is quite a good location and having family connections certainly makes things easier. Mushrooms can be a good earner if you can find sufficient outlets to sell them, I know of several folk selling at local michi no eki and supermarkets and they seem to do ok.

Being close to a big city like Tokyo or Osaka makes life a lot easier than living in the middle of nowhere but it's also possible to make a decent living serving a more middle sized city. A lot boils down to what kind of market you are aiming for, ie mostly restaurants/hotels, internet sales via veggy boxes or direct to the public at farmer's markets or michi no eki.

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Re: Is Anyone Here Farming as the Sole Source of Income

Post by LeeB »

"Yes, we make the majority of our living from farming, we also have a cafe where most of the produce comes from the farm."

Have your operations been impacted at all by the virus?

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Re: Is Anyone Here Farming as the Sole Source of Income

Post by LeeB »

"Political science."

Going for a PhD is a big step and a lot of work, not to mention lost income while studying.

And once (IF?) you finish your degree you have to continue your education and publish, publish, publish. The kid is now teaching, undertaking research, writing papers, but at least she doesn't have to supervise Master's degree students this year.

Here it is 'dog eat dog' in academia now with huge competition for full-time positions and the pay isn't that great either.

Even here in Oz which pays their full time people a decent wage compared to Japan or the USA at lower levels, a full time univeristy position still doesn't even come close to what I made in Japan those 30 years ago. Maybe a full professor in charge of a Department would make about the same.

Most positions are casual and while the pay pay hour is good, there aren't that many hours. Too many PhD's for too few positions both casual and full-time. Heard too many stories about all the unemployed Phd's begging for work 'so they could feed their family'.....................

When I started teaching in Japan 35 years ago you only needed a Master's degree (Back then an MBA was unusual and actually had some value - now they don't) and when I moved to Australia that was still good enough to teach at the university level too, but now it isn't. In fact years ago a couple of universities here eliminated everybody in several departments that didn't have those magic three letters starting with a "P".

Some were given the opportunity to go back to school and get one, but a lot were just fired.

Anyway, good luck.